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While there may be differences between
Medicaid in the territories has been chronically underfunded for decades. The consequences of this historic inequity can be seen in the crumbling health care infrastructure, emergency restrictions on provider networks, the failure to offer coverage of certain life-saving drugs, and even the debt crisis in
This funding structure has forced the territories to pay more than their fair share for Medicaid - much more than they would have to pay if they were treated like states. These programs have been starved for decades, and unfortunately these are the results.
The stakes are too high, and the consequences of inaction are too tragic, to continue down a path of short-term fixes. The territories need a permanent solution to their Medicaid funding shortfalls. They need a solution that ensures that they can make improvements to their programs with certainty that the increased funds they are relying on will be there for more than a couple of years. Beneficiaries need certainty about the services they critically need and rely on. And permanent improvements to these critical programs and to the health of beneficiaries can only be expected if
I'm glad that our colleagues from the territories could be here to share their perspectives. I also know that bipartisan Committee staff recently met with health officials from the territories, and we have also received statements for the record from all of the territories. Hearing directly from the territories, through both their elected representatives and their local health officials, is an important part of this process; and we should make sure their voices are heard.
In just over six months, the territories will face a catastrophic loss in federal Medicaid funding that will jeopardize access to care. Long before that, the territories will have to begin the process of contingency planning to make the cuts necessary to address the looming fiscal cliff. This would include limiting reimbursement to providers, reversing expansions of eligibility that provided thousands of residents with access to Medicaid for the first time, and ending coverage of life-saving medications. We simply cannot allow this to happen.
Bipartisan members of this Committee fought hard last
I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today, and I yield back.